Cowboys hit 13 home runs in sweep of Colonels
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
A weekend of power ended with pitching — the perfect pitch to be exact.
Cameron Foster threw a knee-high fastball on the inner portion of the plate to strike out Nicholls State’s Wes Toups and ended a nearperfect weekend for McNeese State.
Foster earned his fourth save, having put out a Colonel rally in the eighth and working a 1-2-3 ninth, giving McNeese a 6-5 victory Sunday at Joe Miller Ballpark. It also earned the Cowboys a critical 4-game sweep of Nicholls, which entered the weekend just a half game behind McNeese for the eighth and final spot in the Southland Conference tournament.
The Cowboys (26-26,19-16) are now all but secure of making the postseason, having moved up to sixth place in the standings. Their magic number for earning a berth is one with four games at Central Arkansas next weekend left on the schedule.
“We had some magical things happen for us,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “Those have gone against us most of the year. Hope this is a good change.”
There was nothing magical about the Cowboy offense. It was another day of pure power, as McNeese scored all its runs on homers, hitting four a day after blasting seven in a doubleheader.
For the weekend McNeese hit 13 home runs, eight coming from the bottom three spots in the batting order. It was that way again Sunday, as Reid Bourque and Kade Morris each blasted 2-run shots while Nate Fisbeck and Tre Obregon hit solo homers.
For the weekend Bourque hit two homers, his second and third of the season, while Morris hit three giving him
six. Julian Gonzales had three already heading into the finale and reached base a total of 12 times in 14 plate appearances, scoring eight runs and driving in four.
Bourque had seven RBIs and scored six times while Morris finished the series 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored. The trio were at the bottom of the McNeese order the last two games.
“The power has always been there for us,” said Gonzales. “I don’t think there is any part of our order which is a relief to the other team. We can all put pressure on the other pitchers.”
Gonzales’ homer came in the third and gave Mc-Neese the lead for good, 2-1. Morris followed in the fifth to make it 4-1 Cowboys. Fisbeck then hit his second of the weekend and eighth of the year to start the sixth and Obregon followed a batter later with his second of the season.
“If you watch us in practice you would see we have that kind of power,” said Hill. “I don’t think it surprises anybody in our dugout.
“That is what the frustrating part has been at times this year. We know what we can do.”
Down 6-1 the Colonels (20-31, 15-21) rallied and scored three runs on a homer of their own, a shot from Dane Simon in the seventh. Another run in the eighth led to Foster being called on to close things out.
“We have been pitching well for a few weeks and it is coming together,” said Hill. “It all starts with the pitching.”
McNeese got its fourth solid start of the series, this one coming from Ty Abraham.
The right-hander improved to 3-2 by going 6.1 innings allowing just four hits and three runs, two earned. He struck out seven.
“I have competing emotions,” said Hill. “I have been on the other side and I know what it is like.”
Hill was talking about the Nicholls staff, which he has close ties with. The Colonels where quick to offer help to McNeese and the community after hurricane Laura struck last August.
“They were a big, big help,” Hill said. “You find out what people are really like in that situation.”
The Cowboys are no longer worried about just making the postseason. They now can think about what seed they may earn.
“I’m not thinking about that right now,” said Hill. “I’m only thinking of enjoying these wins and how well we played.”
Kade Morris (third from right) celebrates after a fifth inning home run during McNeese State’s final home game of the season at Joe Miller Ballpark Sunday. McNeese beat Nicholls State 6-5 to sweep the series.